The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as the undisputed winner in not only the urban areas in which civic polls were held, but also in the rural areas governed by district councils and panchayat samitis in the state. The party acquired the top position, moving up from the fourth position it had occupied in these bodies. It also ensured that its trend of victory — which began in the municipal council elections three months ago — continued in the second major phase of elections in the rural bodies.
The BJP is likely to form its body in about 12 of the 26 district councils in which polls were held. It won more than 400 seats from its tally of just 187 in previous election. The victory has been impressive for the party as earlier, it had control of only the Jalgaon district council. Besides sweeping almost all the districts in party citadel Vidarbha and reinforcing itself in the region, the BJP has also made inroads into districts of western Maharashtra and Marathwada. In Latur, state labour minister Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar successfully wrested the power in the district council, which was bastion of the Congress, led by former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and then by his son Amit Deshmukh.
Though the BJP won highest seats in Beed, it failed to make a dent in Parali, the citadel of women and child welfare minister Pankaja Munde, where eight of the 10 seats were won by NCP under the leadership of the Opposition in the legislative council Dhananjay Munde. NCP, which enjoys its stronghold in the districts of the western Maharashtra with the help of the strong network of the cooperative institutions, retained the district councils in most of the districts, except Sagli.
NCP was leading in the number of seats it currently held in the 25 district councils with the tally of 518 seats, followed by 438 seats to Congress. The BJP and Shiv Sena had won 187 and 241 seats respectively. In the results announced on Thursday, BJP emerged as top winner with more than 380 seats followed by the NCP with about 315 seats.
Contrary to predictions by experts, the BJP succeeded in ridding citizens’ discontent over demonetisation. Experts had predicted heavy damage to the BJP owing to the hardships faced by farmers, farm labourers and the working class. The action taken by the Fadnavis government against cooperative institutions such as district banks and the cooperative societies, were also expected to cost the ruling party dearly. However, the result appears to be in favour of the BJP.
“Surprisingly, demonetisation did not work against BJP and may prove to be a boost to the party. The party may use during the remaining three rounds of the assembly election,” said Prakash Bal, political analyst.